Vitamin B12 deficiency: The ‘feeling’ in your feet that’s a sign

Vitamin B12 deficiency, or folate deficiency anaemia, starts off without symptoms. But over time, a range of symptoms including dizziness, hair loss, shortness of breath, and more, can occur at the same time or separately.

Many people with the deficiency will experience a strange sensation in their hands and feet.

Numbness of hands and feet, which may present as a “feeling as if they are ‘asleep’”, is a warning sign of low B12 according to the B12 Institute, an organisation that researches Vitamin B12 deficiency.

The root of the problem comes from the nerve damage caused by a lack of the crucial vitamin.

Vitamin B12 is vital for the healthy development of nerve cells and when it is scarce, the nervous system can become damaged – affecting the connection between your limbs and brain.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can specifically damage the protective layer around the cells which protects them, known as the myelin sheath.

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But nerve damage isn’t the only cause of strange sensations in your hands if you have vitamin B12 deficiency.

The condition also causes sensitivity to heat and cold which occurs “especially” in the hands and feet, according to the B12 Institute.

Rather than being a nerve issue, this sensitivity can be caused by a lack of oxygen.


These symptoms may come on over several years and are accompanied by many other physical symptoms.

The B12 institute explains: “Sometimes one of the symptoms is clearly manifest, sometimes there are multiple, more or less severe, symptoms. Patients have told us that their condition has been gradually deteriorating over the years.”

Other, general symptoms recognised by the NHS include:

  • extreme tiredness (fatigue)

  • lack of energy (lethargy)

  • feeling faint

  • headaches

  • pale skin

  • noticeable heartbeats (palpitations)

  • hearing sounds coming from inside the body, rather than from an outside source (tinnitus)

  • loss of appetite and weight loss.

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